What do you get when you combine a bunch of books, some paint and recycled scrap wood? A library in a box.
Last April, Davis resident Joaquin Feliciano made something out of nothing with the scrap wood in his garage.
“I’m going to open my own library and it’s going to be open all the time,” he said about his idea.
Feliciano, a Greek Life coordinator for the 70 sororities and fraternities at UC Davis, says he found himself in a temporary reading rut before building the library.
“One thing I like about working with college students is that they’re staying the same age and I’m getting older — so it’s a slight mental challenge to simply stay in an understanding of where they are, relative to where I am,” Feliciano said. “It’s the same thing with books. If I’m reading different types of books that I wouldn’t normally read, it’s just a way of staying fresh and mentally limber.”
To say Feliciano loves books is an understatement at best. He used to have a few hundred books in his collection, but he donated them to the Yolo County Library.
“I was trying to find new things to read and began thinking of ways to network with book lovers in the community,” Feliciano said.
A light went on. Feliciano not only figured out what to do with the scrap wood in his garage, he finally realized how to open the “flood gate” for Davis readers of various genres — something that potentially could connect the community through a free book exchange.
Using scrap wood, donated hinges and plexiglass, he built the all-weather box that stands in front of his home, 2222 E. Eighth St., across from the Davis Cemetery. A library in a box was born.
Feliciano put six books in the box that day. Now there are approximately 150 to 200 books in circulation as part of the East Davis Library in a Box.
Five words are written on the 24-hour library dispenser: “Borrow.” “Read.” “Return.” “Donate.” “Repeat.”
All of the books sit on a horizontal shelf that can be seen through plexiglass. Anyone can walk up to the little library, open the door, and either borrow, read, return or donate books.
Feliciano’s friend and neighbor, Gina Grapov, said she sees a lot of people visiting the box to take a book or put one in.
“It’s really nice to have one in the community,” Grapov said. “I think we should have more.”
After his project became a reality, Feliciano was excited to come across the Little Free Library, a nationwide movement that encourages people to build all-weather libraries similar to Feliciano’s.
“I’m so happy that Davis can be part of this community-building movement,” he said.
His is Davis’ first library in a box and it’s not the last. A brand-new library box has been built and installed at the Davis Food Co-op, 620 G St. This box is vertical and larger than the one Feliciano built, holding not one, but three bookshelves.
Just recently, the Sacramento Little Free Library donated a couple dozen classic books to Davis’ new library in a box.
“I think it’s awesome because it brings about a level of trust and personal responsibility,” said Bija Young, advertising and brand manager at the Co-op. “Encouraging that and inviting that into the community is really valuable.”
One thing Felciano enjoyed about the whole process was the memory of his dad.
“I remember when my dad was this age and we would build things together,” he said. “He always used to say, ‘we’re not building the great pyramids here, just as long as it works.’ ”
The library in a box seems to be working just fine.